Smile by Raina Telgemeier Discussion Questions

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

'Smile' is an autobiographical graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier about the author's experiences as a middle school student. This resource provides student discussion questions about this novel.


Raina Telgemeir's Smile features a relatable protagonist, Raina, as she experiences the awkwardness, drama, and heartaches of the adolescent experience. Smile is an account of the author's own life as a teenager written in a graphic novel form that will engage even reluctant middle level readers. The following questions support discussions with students about this novel.

Raina and Her Accident

  • Describe Raina at the beginning of the novel. What are some things you and Raina have in common? If you knew Raina, do you think you would be friends? Explain your answer.
  • What happens to Raina at Girl Scout camp? How does this accident change Raina's middle school experience? Would you rather go through physical pain or a humiliating experience? Why? Consider your most embarrassing moments. How have these moments helped shape who you are?
  • Compare Karin and Nicole's initial response to Raina's injury to the way they reacted to her during her treatment. Why do you think their behavior changed? How do other students react to Karin and Nicole's bullying behavior? What factors do you think influence a person to engage in bullying behavior? What would you do if you saw someone being teased in this way?

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